Creating a successful learning environment for postsecondary students with learning disabilities: policy and practice.
As postsecondary enrollment increases and diversifies, colleges and universities are focusing attention on providing accessible, responsive and diverse opportunities for lifelong learning Lifelong learning is the concept that "It's never too soon or too late for learning", a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organisations. Lifelong learning is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors. . However, creating an accessible and responsive environment for all students, and especially those students with learning disabilities, isn't as simple as it may first appear. Ultimately, it is a reflective process that requires instructors to question their pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.
2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner. approach and beliefs by asking themselves: "Does my current pedagogical approach meet the learning needs of the students in my classroom? How can I effectively create a responsive and diverse lifelong learning environment for all students, and especially those with learning disabilities, in my classroom?" One answer to these questions is to use learning strategies in conjunction with student-centered instruction to encourage and enable students with learning disabilities, and indeed, all students, to become successful lifelong learners. The aim of this article, then, is to explore policies and practices that support the creation of a successful learning environment for postsecondary students with learning disabilities. I will: (1) define learning disabilities in general and explore the prevalence of learning disabled students in postsecondary institutions; (2) outline the learning challenges that learning disabled students face and discuss the legal mandate for accommodating students with learning disabilities; (3) outline the pedagogical rationale for using learning strategies and student-centered instruction; and finally, (4) explore the use of learning strategies and student-centered instruction as effective postsecondary instructional techniques for all learners.
Defining Learning Disabilities
The quest for Verb 1. quest for - go in search of or hunt for; "pursue a hobby"
quest after, go after, pursue
look for, search, seek - try to locate or discover, or try to establish the existence of; "The police are searching for clues"; "They are searching for the a definitive definition of learning disabilities is an ongoing one and the current definition has evolved over time. Both the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada and the American National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities have adopted parallel, comprehensive definitions of learning disabilities. In short, these definitions of learning disabilities tell educators that people with learning disabilities are intellectually capable individuals who have varying degrees of difficulty within a range of academic areas, such as listening, speaking, reasoning, reading, writing, and mathematical skills, as a result of impairments affecting one or more processes related to learning; these individuals may also experience difficulty with organizational skills, social perception, social interaction, and perspective taking (Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, 2002; National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, 1990). Especially significant for postsecondary educators is the fact that learning disabilities are a "persisting problem, a lifelong condition that evolves throughout the developmental continuum" (Gerber, 1998, p.1). Children with learning disabilities become adults with learning disabilities, adults who continue to have varying degrees of difficulty in receiving and/or expressing information (Sills Sills , Beverly Originally Belle Silverman. Born 1929.
American operatic soprano and manager who joined the New York City Opera in 1953 and was its general director from 1980 to 1989.
Noun 1. , 1995) and likewise, continue to display weaknesses in reading, writing, and math (Hock hock: see wine. , Deshler, & Schumaker, 1993) throughout their postsecondary academic careers. The Prevalence of Learning Disabled Students in Postsecondary Institutions
People with learning disabilities represent the largest segment of the disability population and the number of postsecondary students with learning disabilities is on the rise (Kerka, 2000; Vogel, 1998). Estimates of the numbers of people affected by learning disabilities range from 5-20% of the population (Kerka, 2000), and Lauffer (2000) reports that in 1994, "students with learning disabilities accounted for 32 percent of postsecondary students with disabilities" (p. 41). Gerber and Reiff (1994) also remind educators that the numbers of adults with learning disabilities may even be greater due to the "unresolved question yet persistent belief that one half" of all adults with low literacy skills in fact have learning disabilities (as cited in Kerka, 2000, p.1-2).
Two factors affect the documented numbers of students with learning disabilities in postsecondary institutions. First, not all students with learning disabilities identify themselves as learning disabled, for reasons including "the social stigma Social stigma is severe social disapproval of personal characteristics or beliefs that are against cultural norms. Social stigma often leads to marginalization.
Examples of existing or historic social stigmas can be physical or mental disabilities and disorders, as well as , the loss of esteem by professors, and the fear that future employers will have access to their record" (Lauffer, 2000, p. 42). Second, many may not know that they have a learning disability, as not all students with learning disabilities have been assessed and diagnosed prior to university entry (Kovach & Wilgosh, 1999). It is important, therefore, for instructors to be aware that the student who has chosen to identify may not be the only one in the classroom with a learning disability (Lauffer, 2000) and others may be silently struggling with the course material without institutional support services support services Psychology Non-health care-related ancillary services–eg, transportation, financial aid, support groups, homemaker services, respite services, and other services .
The Challenges Faced by Students with Learning Disabilities in Postsecondary Institutions
The transition to postsecondary education is difficult for many students with learning disabilities and educators cannot assume these students will meet the academic and social demands of the postsecondary classroom (Hock et al., 1993). Ellis (1993) argues that in addition to mastering the content information, students must also be self-regulated learners; they need to be "strategic problem solvers who proactively analyze tasks, reflect on their prior experiences and knowledge, set goals, select and employ appropriate strategies for solving the problems and monitor the effectiveness of their problem-solving behaviours" (p.359). However, many students with learning disabilities lack effective task approach strategies (Butler, 1995). Typically they do not understand their disability, lack the skills to be self-regulated learners, and have not had learning strategies instruction to allow skill generalization gen·er·al·i·za·tion
1. The act or an instance of generalizing.
2. A principle, a statement, or an idea having general application. across contexts (Kovach & Wilgosh, 1999). In addition, students with learning disabilities continue to have difficulty in academic skills that were not mastered during the school-age years (Gerber, 1998) and they are often overwhelmed o·ver·whelm
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
a. , disorganized dis·or·gan·ize
tr.v. dis·or·gan·ized, dis·or·gan·iz·ing, dis·or·gan·iz·es
To destroy the organization, systematic arrangement, or unity of. , and frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: in learning situations (Vaidya vaidya /vai·dya/ (vi´dyah) [Sanskrit "one who knows"] in ayurveda, a physician. , 1999).
Vogel (1985) identified the areas of greatest difficulty experienced by students with learning disabilities in a college setting:
* concentrating in a noisy environment (72%);
* reading comprehension, reading fast, spelling, learning the rules of grammar, and working math word problems (62%);
* learning a foreign language, learning the rules of punctuation punctuation [Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and and capitalization, taking essay exams, writing compositions, recognizing misspelled words, and reading in front of a group (52-55%) (as cited in Vogel, 1998, p. 14).
Significantly, a majority of the skills identified as challenging by students with learning disabilities are language based. Merritt and Calcutta (1998) argue that language skills are the embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. curriculum in postsecondary classrooms that students must master in order to achieve success in higher education (as cited in Olivier, Hecker, Klucken & Westby, 2000). Thus, although individuals with learning disabilities have varying strengths and weaknesses, they almost certainly will struggle with the oral and/or written language expectations of a postsecondary classroom.
Adults with learning disabilities may also grapple with low self-efficacy beliefs, low self-esteem and a poor self-concept. Bandura ban`dur´a
n. 1. A traditional Ukrainian stringed musical instrument shaped like a lute, having many strings. (1986) defines self-efficacy as the beliefs we hold about our capabilities to achieve certain goals and states that human behavior is most affected by our judgment of these capabilities (as cited in Stipek, 1998). The beliefs that adults with learning disabilities hold about themselves and their ability to succeed in school then become vital forces in their ultimate success or failure. However, because many adults with learning disabilities have had particularly painful experiences during their school-age years, they often continue to feel dumb, stupid, and incompetent in postsecondary classrooms. Low self-efficacy beliefs combined with a poor self-concept can leave students with learning disabilities viewing themselves as incapable or as losers; "in essence, they feel that if they get something right, they are lucky, and if they get it wrong, then they are dumb" (Gerber, 1998, p. 3).
Students with learning disabilities not only bring with them low expectations for success based on their past experiences, but these experiences also form the foundation for their future learning in postsecondary classrooms (Stipek, 1998). As Knowles (1973) states, "to a child, experience is something that happens to him; to an adult, his experience is who he is" (as cited in Krupp, 1982). Adults with learning disabilities who have had negative educational experiences in the past bring those expectations to the postsecondary classroom, and this psychological aspect of learning disabled students makes the creation of a positive learning environment and successful experiences all the more important.
The Mandate for Accommodating Students with Learning Disabilities
The legal mandate for accommodating students with learning disabilities arises out of human and civil rights legislation. In Canada, the foundation for accommodation is laid by Section 15 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (also known as The Charter of Rights and Freedoms or simply The Charter) is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982. , which states that:
... every individual is equal before and under the law and has the equal right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability (Constitution Act, 1982).
This section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of students with learning disabilities to attend postsecondary institutions, guaranteeing them legal protection from discrimination based on their learning disability, and is further strengthened by human rights laws enacted by individual provinces. Likewise, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , stating that:
... no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States ... shall solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance (as cited in U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 1998, p.1).
Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) strengthens this policy by prohibiting state and local governments from discrimination against persons with disabilities (U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 1998). Together, these laws mandate equal access to postsecondary education programs and services and reasonable accommodations reasonable accommodations A standard of providing for a worker's or customer's needs, as mandated by the ADA, which requires that a business make appropriate changes in the environment to accommodate those with mental or physical disabilities as long as such for people with learning disabilities (National Joint Commission on Learning Disabilities, 1999). Thus, postsecondary institutions across North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. are legally obligated by federal, and provincial law in Canada, to admit learning disabled students into their programs without discrimination and to make appropriate adjustments in order to provide effective services and reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities.
While these laws secure the right of equal access to postsecondary institutions for persons with disabilities, they also outline the responsibilities of both the student requesting accommodation and the institutions to make accommodations. Both the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA (1990) require postsecondary institutions to supply appropriate educational auxiliary aids and services to students with a disability in order to provide that individual with an equal opportunity to participate. It is important to note, though, that the student is obligated to identify the need of support and give adequate notice of the need. The postsecondary institution also has the right to ask the student to provide documentation from a physician or psychologist of the disability prior to the implementation of any accommodations. Once this documentation is received, the institution will undertake to make feasible and appropriate accommodations for the student (U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 1998).
However, due to the fact that many students with learning disabilities do not self-disclose, and that many students have undiagnosed learning disabilities which often remain undiagnosed, accommodation may be sought infrequently in·fre·quent
1. Not occurring regularly; occasional or rare: an infrequent guest.
2. in a small institution. Yet, students with learning disabilities continue to enroll in and attempt to struggle through postsecondary classes. As a result, it is important for instructors to adopt pedagological practices, such as the use of learning strategies and student centered instruction, which see accommodation as "an attitude that allows for the full expression of human talent" (Yuker, 1988, as cited in Lauffer, 2000, p.36) and set the foundation for building an accessible and responsive learning environment for all students.
Pedagogical Rationale for Using. Cognitive and Metacognitive Learning Strategies
As the number of diagnosed and undiagnosed students with learning disabilities entering postsecondary institutions rises, so too must the instructor's pedagogical awareness. In the past, the paradigm for postsecondary education has mistaken a means for an end, making provision of instruction the primary purpose of college faculty (Howell, 2001); however, the traditional postsecondary 'sage on the stage' instructional approach presents a significant barrier to students with learning disabilities. Imagine a student who has difficulty concentrating in a noisy environment, processes information slowly, has difficulty identifying key ideas in a lecture, and writes slowly and it becomes readily apparent why students with learning disabilities struggle in a postsecondary environment. A shift to a more learner-centered approach, one that focuses on effective learning strategies and teaching techniques, would help to create an environment that encourages and supports lifelong learning for all students.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the American Psychological Association's (1993) Presidential Task Force on Psychology in Education, learner-centered instruction is based on the following principles: Learning is an active process of creating meaning based on personal experience and existing knowledge; it is affected by personal interests, motivation, goals, expectations and both positive and negative beliefs; relevant, authentic and challenging tasks stimulate learning; strategies for "thinking about thinking" help students to think creatively and critically; learning is social; individuals develop in unique ways; and, individuals learn at different rates in different ways (Paris & Ayres, 1994). For optimum learning to occur then, it is important for instructors to make pedagogical choices which are informed by an understanding of the differences students bring to the classroom. One choice is to consider students' learning styles, described by Dunn and Dunn (1993) as "the way in which each person begins to concentrate on, process, internalize internalize
To send a customer order from a brokerage firm to the firm's own specialist or market maker. Internalizing an order allows a broker to share in the profit (spread between the bid and ask) of executing the order. , and remember new and difficult academic information or skills" (as cited in Stevenson & Dunn, 2001, p. 1). Some research has found that using learning style-based instruction in a traditional classroom improves the performance of students with disabilities (Braio, Dunn, Beasley, Quinn & Buchanan, 1997; Brunner & Majewski, 1990). Thus, by using and integrating such pedagogical knowledge and understanding, instructors can begin to focus on the experience of learning from the student's perspective. The philosophy of valuing the learner's experience of learning is intertwined with the phenomenological approach to curriculum theory, an approach which focuses on individual perceptions and experiences of education and learning (Kincheloe, Slattery, & Steinberg, 2000; Marton, Hounsell, & Entwistle, 1984; Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery, & Taubman, 2000). The phenomenological approach looks at the experience of learning and students' perceptions of teaching and assessment and how those perceptions influence their learning (Kincheloe et al., 2000). This learner-centered focus then informs teaching practice and provides practical rationales and conceptual connections for integrating instructional activities, assessment, and self-reflection.
Adult students with learning disabilities bring a diverse range of life experiences to the classroom. Knowles (1980), in defining andragogy as the "the art and science of helping adults learn" (p. 43), suggests that adult learners have a need to be self-directing; they bring the rich resource of life experience to the classroom which can form the foundation of experiential ex·pe·ri·en·tial
Relating to or derived from experience.
ex·peri·en learning in the classroom; they are motivated to learn when they have a need to learn something that is relevant to their current situation; and they tend to have a perspective of immediacy im·me·di·a·cy
n. pl. im·me·di·a·cies
1. The condition or quality of being immediate.
2. Lack of an intervening or mediating agency; directness: the immediacy of live television coverage. of application toward most of their learning. To adults, education is a process of improving their ability to cope with life problems they face now. Thus, they tend to approach education from a problem-centered or performance-centered frame of mind (Knowles, 1980). Additionally, Knowles suggests that individual differences between learners increases with age and experience. Adopting an instructional style, which takes into account the characteristics of adults as learners and likewise considers how individuals learn most effectively can begin the paradigm shift A dramatic change in methodology or practice. It often refers to a major change in thinking and planning, which ultimately changes the way projects are implemented. For example, accessing applications and data from the Web instead of from local servers is a paradigm shift. See paradigm. toward a more responsive and accommodating learning environment for all postsecondary students, and most particularly those with learning disabilities.
Effective Instruction for Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities
For students with learning disabilities, effective instruction is a "critical element in the accessibility of learning environments" (Shaw, Scott, & McGuire, 2001, p. 1). Student achievement and effective instruction go hand in hand; in order for students with learning disabilities to be academically successful, they must experience learning as a "reflective activity which enables the learner to draw upon previous experience to understand and evaluate the present so as to shape future action and formulate new knowledge" (Abbott, 1994, as cited in Watkins, Carnell, Lodge, Wagner, & Whalley, 2000, p. 91). The effective instructor sees learning as an active process of relating new meaning to existing meaning, which involves making connections between past, present and future learning (Watkins et al., 2000).
Instructors undertaking this paradigm shift toward learner-centered instruction may be concerned about maintaining assessment standards. Rather than being lowered, standards must be applied equitably in a way that does not adversely affect students with learning disabilities (Spillane, 1990, as cited in Lauffer, 2000). Traditionally, instructors have required students to demonstrate understanding in a limited and prescribed fashion, with little consideration for a student's learning needs or abilities. For example, in a humanities course, students may be asked to analyze and synthesize To create a whole or complete unit from parts or components. See synthesis. events, concepts or themes in essay format--or perhaps two essays and a timed essay exam for a final. But assessing subject knowledge only through the filter of writing ability may severely disadvantage a student with learning disabilities. A promising approach for adapting instruction for diverse learning needs is Universal Design for Learning or UDL UDL Universal Design for Learning
UDL Universitat de Lleida (Spain)
UDL Universal Data Link
UDL Urban Debate League
UDL Uniformly Distributed Load (mechanics, building trade)
UDL User Defined Logic (Meyer & Rose, 2000; Pisha & Coyne, 2001). It follows the tenets of the principle of universal design in architecture to integrate adaptations into curriculum, instruction, and assessment. In the humanities course example, an instructor can offer a choice of assessment products, such as a poster, a PowerPoint presentation, or a traditional essay, yet retain analysis and synthesis as the focus for assessment. The instructor can equitably assess each student's skill and also maintain assessment standards.
Successful classroom performance requires that students understand the cognitive and linguistic demands both of the academic content and the rules for social behavior In biology, psychology and sociology social behavior is behavior directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social. (Olivier et al., 2000) and using learning strategies is one way to achieve this required understanding. A strategy can be defined as an "individual's approach to a task and includes how a person thinks and acts when planning, executing, and evaluating performance on a task and its outcomes" (Lenz, 1989 as cited in Lenz, 1992, p. 206). According to this definition, a strategy includes both cognitive (what goes on in a person's head) and behavioral (what the student actually does) elements that guide student performance on and evaluation of the task. The strategy also incorporates the reflective process of making the connection between effort and results (Lenz, 1992). Strategies can be classified as cognitive or metacognitive. Cognitive strategies are learning strategies, those learner behaviors which influence the processing and manipulation of information; while metacognitive strategies are self-regulatory strategies, used when planning, monitoring, and evaluating learning (Vaidya, 1999; Wong, 1993).
Strategy instruction is particularly important for students with learning disabilities in postsecondary classrooms, many of whom do not think efficiently or effectively and need support to become purposeful pur·pose·ful
1. Having a purpose; intentional: a purposeful musician.
2. Having or manifesting purpose; determined: entered the room with a purposeful look. , effective, and independent learners (Vaidya, 1999). As Weber (1982) points out "they need ... to be taught first, that there are strategies and, secondly, that they must use them" (p. 97-98). The use of strategy instruction has been shown to be effective in promoting skills such as reading comprehension, listening comprehension, note taking, memory for content, essay writing, and effective test taking. All of these skills are required in textbook-based approaches to content area instruction commonly found in postsecondary education (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1993). Therefore, strategy instruction should be encouraged in college (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1996). In addition, if strategies are taught in conjunction with content, students can see relationships between content elements and learning processes (Deshler & Schumaker, 1993). For strategy instruction to be successful, however, students must be explicitly informed of what strategies are being taught, when to appropriately use them, and why strategy use can facilitate learning success (Ellis, 1993). Instructors need to purposefully pur·pose·ful
1. Having a purpose; intentional: a purposeful musician.
2. Having or manifesting purpose; determined: entered the room with a purposeful look. integrate learning strategies into teaching, thus presenting a framework that will assist students in remembering and recalling concepts and likewise, providing models which students can incorporate into their own learning. The research on practice suggests a number of ways that instructors can integrate learning strategies into teaching to support all students and in particular, those with learning disabilities.
The starting point Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo
commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the for creating an accessible and responsive learning environment for all students is the course outline. To help individuals with learning disabilities, course outlines should be detailed and include the topic of each class, readings for those classes and specific reminders and dates for assignments and examinations (Crux, 1991). Designing a clear and simple course outline in a table format can make the information more accessible to all students.
In planning instruction, the postsecondary instructor should consider activities-based or hands-on approaches which take into account the learning strengths of students with learning disabilities, as these approaches emphasize active manipulation of concrete phenomena and deemphasize language and literacy requirements (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1993). Activities-based and hands-on approaches can take many forms, including role playing role playing,
n in behavioral medicine, learning exercise in which individuals assume characters different from their own. The individual may also be asked to simulate a particularly difficult situation and apply the characteristics that are common to his , building and manipulating a model, creating a computer simulation, or performing an experiment. Thus, through active engagement and involvement in the learning, the learner becomes aware of the processes used during learning, evaluates the effectiveness of his or her own learning strategies, and sets personal goals for future growth (Jochum & Curran, 1998).
Advance organizers can orient o·ri·ent
1. To locate or place in a particular relation to the points of the compass.
2. To align or position with respect to a point or system of reference.
3. students to a new learning task before the lesson begins. An organizer can focus attention and organize student thinking by facilitating the recall of prior knowledge. According to Lenz (1983, 1987, as cited in Schmidt & Harriman, 1998, p.291-292), advance organizers can perform the following functions: state the concepts to be learned, provide relevant background information or establish the relevance of the content, list topics and subtopics to be covered, preview the order of presentation for new information, explain task requirements, introduce relevant vocabulary, and introduce the goals or outcomes for the lesson. Advance organizers can take many forms, such as an oral introduction to the lesson, written questions at the beginning of a chapter in a text, or a graphic organizer Graphic organizers are visual representations of knowledge, concepts or ideas. They are known to help
Because language (both oral and written) and listening skills present the most difficulty for the majority of students with learning disabilities (Vogel, 1998), these are areas where students benefit most from strategy instruction. In fact, Larson and McKinley (1995) argue that it is vital to teach listening skills explicitly, as this is the skill most used by college students, yet it is the least taught (as cited in Olivier et al., 2000).
Many students with learning disabilities also struggle with the language skills of proficient pro·fi·cient
Having or marked by an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation, profession, or branch of learning.
An expert; an adept. reading which are essential for success in the postsecondary classroom. There are a number of reading strategies designed to help learners read with more accuracy and acquire more meaning which can easily be integrated with active learning techniques and included in postsecondary classrooms. One teaching and learning technique that combines reading strategies with active learning is literature circles. Literature circles are small, temporary discussion groups for which each participant reads a predetermined pre·de·ter·mine
v. pre·de·ter·mined, pre·de·ter·min·ing, pre·de·ter·mines
1. To determine, decide, or establish in advance: portion of text and also prepares to take a specific responsibility or role in the upcoming group discussion. The circles meet regularly and discussion roles rotate each session. Research with middle school students has shown that students feel using literature circles in the classroom gives them tools for success and increases their understanding of the text (Blum, Lipsett, & Yocom, 2002; Katz & Kuby, 1997). Above all, literature circles allow each participant to talk about what and how meanings are achieved in written materials, discussions that are important to the development of those cognitive and interpretive in·ter·pre·tive also in·ter·pre·ta·tive
Relating to or marked by interpretation; explanatory.
in·terpre·tive·ly adv. skills, which are basic to being literate.
Writing strategies are also vitally important to the success of learning disabled students in the postsecondary classroom, since most course grading schemes focus heavily on a student's performance on written tasks such as essays and exams. An instructor can facilitate the writing process before the students even begin writing by giving clear and explicit instructions (Sills, 1995). Often students will not understand what various direction words--such as analyze, compare, criticize, define, discuss, evaluate, prove and summarize--actually mean in terms of completing the assignment. Providing a concise explanation of what the students are being asked to do is the surest way to promote their success in doing it. For example, instead of just asking the students to criticize a theory or incident, instruct them to 'give your judgment of both good points and limitations and provide evidence for each'. Writing strategies successful with younger students with learning disabilities may apply to the college classroom. Schmidt and Harriman (1998) is a useful source of such strategies, such as SCORE A for writing research papers.
Peer writing workshops facilitate the writing process for all students, but especially those with learning disabilities. Such social learning experiences promote group construction of knowledge, and allow students to observe each other's models of successful learning and encourage emulation (Stage, Muller, Kinzie & Simmons, 1998). Lauffer (2000) notes that conferencing, with both the instructor and peers, improves learning disabled students' understanding and use of strategies. Peer writing workshops can be used as teaching and learning opportunities throughout the writing process and can be as short as ten minutes or as long as the entire class period. Not only have instructors found peer writing groups beneficial to student achievement, Miller (n.d.) reports that on course feedback forms "about 99% of students identify writing workshops as the single classroom activity most useful to them in their progress as writers" (p. 9).
As instructors and institutions grapple with the challenge of creating educational environments which will foster lifelong learning and also prepare students, including those with learning disabilities, to meet the new and ever-varying demands of life and work in the 21st century, they must reevaluate traditional instructional procedures. Students' abilities to confront real-world challenges--to understand their work in relation to others, to build on their strengths, to see new possibilities and challenges in their work--all depend on their capacity to step back from their work and consider it carefully, drawing new insights and ideas about themselves as learners (Zessoules & Gardner, 1991). Instructors need to shift their focus away from merely providing instruction, and instead concentrate on facilitating learning by meeting the needs of the individual learner in their classroom. Implicit in Adj. 1. implicit in - in the nature of something though not readily apparent; "shortcomings inherent in our approach"; "an underlying meaning"
underlying, inherent the use of learning strategies and learner centered instruction is this desire to empower students as learners, both within and beyond the classroom environment; thus, embedding 1. (mathematics) embedding - One instance of some mathematical object contained with in another instance, e.g. a group which is a subgroup.
2. (theory) embedding - (domain theory) A complete partial order F in [X -> Y] is an embedding if effective learning strategies in instruction and using student centered instruction methods will indeed create an accessible, responsive and diverse learning environment, one which enables and empowers all students and "creates a desire for continued growth and supplies the means for making the desire [achievable]" (Dewey, 1916, p. 53).
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Shari Harrison teaches in the Adult Basic Education and Teacher Assistant programs at Northern Lights College It currently has offices in eight communities, and a working agreement with the University of Northern British Columbia. The college president is D. Jean Valgardson. List of Campuses